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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Denise Grollmus Awarded Heilman Dissertation Prize

Denise Grollmus, Simpson Center Communications Manager, was recently awarded the Heilman Dissertation Prize, which recognizes the most distinguished dissertation in the Department of English annually. For the 2018-2019 year, the department selected two recipients; Tait Bergstrom was also recognized for his project, titled Uptake of Educational Texts in Multilingual Composition Classrooms.

Grollmus’s dissertation, The Sacred Disease: Narratives of Addiction and the Making of the Post-Secular Self, explores twentieth and twenty-first century addiction narratives within specific religious frameworks, in turn theorizing and modeling modes of reparative reading and post-secular selfhood. From the project description:

Where medical discourse marks addiction as a psychological and/or physiological aberration of the normatively moderate self, stories of addiction told from the perspective of addicts often employ religious and spiritual ontologies alongside and against this model to express addiction as a normative, spiritual condition. Working across disciplines, my attention to religious discourse not only recenters addicts as the experts of their own experience, but it also historicizes and challenges normative assumptions about choice, disease, and dependence, as well as suspicious readings of these texts. In each chapter, I focus on a different text and religious framework, including the Pueblo cosmovision of Leslie Marmon Silko’s 1978 novel Ceremony, Mary Karr’s conversion to Catholicism in her 2009 memoir Lit, the rite of confession in Lars von Trier’s 2014 film Nymph()maniac, and the employment of diasporic religions such as Santeria and Voodoo in the television show True Blood (2008-2014).

Grollmus is now preparing The Sacred Disease for submission to academic presses.

Congrats, Denise!